Midweek Mountain Bike Madness – Haigh Hall Race Report
Race report by Ben Othen
Photos – Simon Barnes
Round two of the MMBM was to be held at Haigh Hall in Wigan a stunning venue with the large country house of Haigh Hall in the background as the riders thrashed round a surprisingly technical yet fast course in the grounds. The Bikeshak crew arrived in force (in the van and everything) with Ben and Luke signing on to race in the ‘Racer’ category and Simon and Tamara on photo / heckling duty. The night was overcast and midges were out in force with riders lined up on the start being slowly drained of vital fluids waiting for the gun.
From the off it was a mad scramble up the main house road before turning right on the long gravel climb towards Haigh Hall before turning right again to drop into the adjacent woodland. I was desperate to remain in the front of the field to avoid the log jam as the track quickly narrowed which meant a huge effort in the first two laps.
It was full on race mode as we hit the first descent, dropper post slammed we were bunny hoping the logs across the first descent at reckless speed making sure to duck as you landed to miss the huge low hanging branch. Hurtling into a sharp right hand with riders practically buzzing your back wheel the race was on as riders aggressively jostled for places before the climbing started again.
As we rounded a tree turning left adjacent to the rail tracks we blasted onto the fire road connecting to the next descent taking us to the final climb before the start finish. As soon as we rounded the train engine house it was a flat out drag race trying to draft other riders down the fire road dropping into the woods with both wheels drifting trying to scrub speed before swinging left into the trees for a super fast descent with some surprisingly big kickers.
Boosting the first kicker I was landing in a rutted section that became more so as the race progressed forcing your wheel to jerk left into line for the next. Flying off that gained some massive air time and then the resulting panic trying to keep things under control as you hit a rooted section and a sharp left onto the bottom of the final climb. Winching my way up towards the rail tracks again there was no choice but to sit behind the rider in front with few passing places and too much energy at stake with the main climb coming up.
Random heckles from the sidelines were the indication that Simon and Tamara were camped out behind the tape seeming to appear at random locations throughout the course! In the late stages of the race a handful of riders picked their way past who didn’t get the best start and I was really starting to feel the burn of the manic first lap and whilst hot on the wheel of the rider in front I had to pace myself for fear of blowing up. Despite being held up on the log obstacles I was gifted a place as we came to the steep bomb hole for the last time. A pack of riders had bunched up and the rider ahead of me attempted a pass only to stall on the crest of the hole and slide back down screaming ‘NOOOO’ as I swept past and ran up the side in my super grippy XC shoes.
With no riders ahead or behind I was lucky to have a casual run to the finish line coming in 14th with Luke not far behind in 18th.
Exhausted but elated to be back racing again after such a long break it was a great experience on a brilliant course. Race organisation was excellent and the volunteers did a great job before and after the race, it was the slickest run evening race I’ve ever attended.
It was great to just be riding for fun and not to compete for points or places like in days past, I just rode as fast as I could, got as much air time as I dared and had a blast. I would encourage anyone to give it try with any half decent mountain bike, the atmosphere is amazing and the crowd welcoming and friendly. I’m looking forward to the next race at Chorlton Water Park, we hope to see you there!
Midweek Mountain Bike Madness is a volunteer run grass roots race series held in the North West. Riders of all ability can take part on a suitable bike with races taking place predominantly on Wednesday nights through the summer. If you would like to take part you can see the upcoming events on the British Cycling events page here:
Karen and Daniel do a great job of maintaining the series social media, regular updates can be found on their Facebook page including event info, results and photos: